Great Lakes managed to pull out a 2-1 victory in extra time against the Eagles of Robert Morris (Illinois) on Saturday, despite putting in what could very well be described as a sluggish performance.
RMU opened the game by winning a penalty in the 7th minute, but Crusader goalkeeper Jeremy Smith got down to make the save, his second in as many games, to keep things level early on.
After the withholding the early pressure, the Lakes were able to take control in the latter part of the first half. An apparent goal from St. Luc Picard was called back for offside in 28th, a Nathan Boyd-Cleaver corner was only just headed over by Kevin Downer in the 41st, and a free kick from Peter Stebbins in the 45th was saved by the goalkeeper. Despite creating some good opportunities, Great Lakes were unable to find the net and went into half time at a 0-0 standstill.
As the match wore on, Great Lakes struggled with putting chances on frame, and never did they look very crisp in their play. They gave away yet another penalty (their fourth of the campaign thus far) on a late challenge from Mike Vickers in the 68th minute. The Eagles finished the ensuing penalty, giving themselves a 1-0 advantage.
Following the goal, Robert Morris proceeded to park the bus in front of goal, allowing Great Lakes to control the possession. In the 79th minute, Downer found Brandon Coleman on a throw-in, who split two defenders and finished far post to level the score line at 1-1, giving Coleman his second game-saving equaliser in as many games.
The Crusaders continued to apply the pressure, hoping to grab the go-ahead goal, but were unable to score before the full time whistle. Jeremy Klepal appeared to have won it when he whipped a free kick towards top corner only to see it drift over by inches. Robert Morris, however, did manage to go down to ten men as one of their players was sent off after receiving his second yellow card in the 89th.
The coaches exercised their option to play two ten-minute periods of golden goal extra time, and the match continued. In the 96th, Marquis DeLong was brought down just outside tof he box, sending him to the bench with an injury and sending off the player who committed the foul with his second yellow, bringing the Eagles down to nine men on the pitch. The ensuing free kick was pitched over the bar by Klepal, and nothing came of the rest of the first half of extra time.
The ride on the struggle bus continued for the Crusaders, as they were unable to break down their now seriously undermanned opponent through a series of sloppy play and miscommunication. It appeared as though the teams were destined for penalties until finally, in the 110th minute, Danny Buegar was brought down hard in the box, and the referee awarded a penalty. Brandon Coleman, taking a penalty for the first time in his career, finished to the keeper’s right, ending the long night with a 2-1 victory for the home side, much to the pleasure of the supporters.
“It was a little difficult,” said Coleman after the game, “we could have played a lot better. We grinded it out today like we did against Davenport, but it’s got to get better before next week when we play Moody.”
Game Notes: Daniel Jehl, Nathan Boyd-Cleaver, and Peter Stebbins all received yellow cards, the first of the season for each of them. Izzy Sesay sat out his suspension for his dismissal from the game against Davenport JV and is eligible to play for the Crusaders in their next match.
Up Next: The Crusaders will scrimmage with the club squad from Lake Superior State University on Saturday at 1:00 before taking on Moody Bible Institute on the 28th at 3:00 in their second conference match of the campaign.